Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Parsing Non-Standard Date Formats.

Parsing Non-Standard Date Formats

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 18, 2020)

1

Bill is faced with the challenge of importing data into Excel that was originally created in other applications. The problem is that the data contains lots of dates, but they are in a format that Excel doesn't understand. For instance, the dates may be in the format 09.15.20 or 9.15.2020, neither of which is treated as a date by Excel. Bill wants to know how to convert the non-standard dates to a date format that Excel understands.

If the dates are in the same sequence format that you use in your regional settings, then converting is a snap. For instance, if your regional settings use the date format MDY (month followed by day followed by year), and the date you are importing is in the same format, then you can simply select the cells and replace the periods with a slash. When Excel changes 9.15.2020 to 9/15/2020, it automatically parses the result as a date.

If the format you are importing doesn't match your regional settings, then you need to shuffle around the date into the same format. For instance, if the date you are importing is 09.10.20 (September 10, 2020), and your system would interpret this as October 9, 2020, then the easiest way is to separate the date into individual components, and then put them back together. Follow these general steps:

  1. Insert three blank columns to the right of the date column.
  2. Select the cells containing the non-standard dates.
  3. Using the Text to Columns tool (available in the Data Tools group on the Data tab of the ribbon) choose delimited data and use a period as the delimiter. After the wizard is done, you end up with three columns containing the month, day, and year.
  4. In the remaining blank column, enter a formula such as the following:
  5.      =DATE(C1,A1,B1)
    
  6. Copy the formula down to other cells next to the dates.
  7. Select the cells containing the formulas you just created, then press Ctrl+C.
  8. Use Paste Special to convert the formulas to results. (Select the Values option when using Paste Special.)
  9. Delete the three columns that contain the separated dates and keep the column that contains the final dates.

Another solution is to simply use a macro to do the conversion. The following is a user-defined function that takes the non-standard date and converts it to a properly formatted date value. The macro also switches around the position of the month and day, as done in the Text to Columns technique.

Public Function Convert_Date(A As String) As Date
    Dim K As Long
    Dim K1 As Long
    Dim K2 As Long

    K = Len(A)
    K1 = InStr(1, A, ".")
    K2 = InStr(K1 + 1, A, ".")
    Convert_Date = DateSerial(Val(Mid(A, K2 + 1, _
      K - K2 + 1)), Val(Mid(A, K1 + 1, K2 - K1)), _
      Val(Mid(A, 1, K1 - 1)))
End Function

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9837) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Parsing Non-Standard Date Formats.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is 9 - 3?

2020-04-18 23:16:47

Alex B

In scenario where "format you are importing doesn't match your regional settings". The above solution suggests using Text to Columns and a formal.
The text to columns function can do it in one step.
a) Select the Cell or column
b) Text to Columns
c) Delimited - pick something that doesn't exist eg TAB
d) On the next screen select "Date"
e) from the drop down box select the format that the date you are seeing is in
eg in the above example if 09.10.2020 is meant to be October 9, 2020 then the date format you select is DMY
f) select a destination and hit finish
(see Figure 1 below)

The above will also work instead of the replace in the first option is you find it quicker and in fact should be available when you import the data in the first place.

Figure 1. Convert Text to Column


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